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Appeared on: Monday, February 25, 2002
Western Digital WD1200JB

1. Installation/Package

WD1200JB 120GB - Page 1

8MB Buffer at IDE Hard Disks!

- Introduction

on 7th of January 2002 announced the WD Caviar 120 GB Special Edition hard drive that uses an 8 MB buffer - the largest buffer available today in a 7,200 RPM desktop EIDE hard drive.

As Western Digital mentioned at the press release: "...The new WD Caviar hard drive combines the speed and performance of the previously announced WD Caviar 100 GB Special Edition 8 MB buffer with the massive capacity of 120 GB. "This drive truly represents what can be achieved when speed and performance are combined with capacity - the ability to handle users' most demanding applications such as digital video editing and commercial applications such as entry-level enterprise storage devices," said Rich Rutledge, vice president of marketing for Western Digital. "These greater capacity drives open the door for new types of usage that seemed far-fetched only a short time ago."

The WD Caviar 120 GB Special Edition 8 MB buffer hard drives provide a higher percentage of cache hits and significantly faster time to data than industry-standard 2 MB versions. The larger buffer improves performance because there is a reduction in the number of physical accesses to the disk. This allows data to stream from the disk uninterrupted by mechanical operations. The 8 MB buffer can also offer an advantage in a server environment, where data typically is accessed across wider portions of the disks. With additional buffer resources, read and write commands are more quickly queued and served to the user..."

With this review we examine how this "Special Edition" performs in our test benchnech. Since we don't have any other 120GB model, we compare it with the faster 40GB drives from Maxtor and WD.

- Package

For our tests, we received the retail box, which contained the WD120JB, a diskette with various software, the ATA66/100 ribbon, mounting screws, a quick installation guide and a printed manual in 3 languages. The drive is priced at around $379 at retail market:

- Features

Click to view the drive's full specsThe drive has 7200rpm rotation speed, supports ATA100 interface connection and includes an 8MB buffer. Looking at the drive's features, we see that Western Digital is using 3 platters of 40GB each, 16.383 cylinders and 16 logical heads. You can connect the 120GB drive through both PioMode4 and UDMA33/66/100 connection interface. For our tests we installed the drive as a primary slave and worked at ATA100 interface. Below are the main specifications of the WD1200JB:

 Read Seek Time (Average)
8.9 ms
 Buffer To Disk
602.0 Mbits/s (Max)
 Write Seek Time (Average)
10.9 ms (average)
 Mode 4 Ultra ATA
66.6 MB/s
 Track-To-Track Seek Time
2.0 ms (average)
 Mode 2 Ultra ATA
33.3 MB/s
 Full Stroke Seek
21.0 ms (average)
 Average Latency
4.2 ms (nominal)
 Rotational Speed
7,200 RPM (nominal)
 Buffer Size
8 MB


Bottom of the drive!

Below are the screenshots from the drive's features as the DTemp software reports. Note that the drive cannot report its internal temperature from SMART protocol therefore no thermal tests will be done:

2. Seek Times Test

WD1200JB 120GB - Page 2

Seek Times Test

As the test results show, Western Digital WD1200JB has an access time of 13.88ms while reading and 12.88ms while writing. The drive produced outliers at both reading/writing service times, 13/2343 respectively.

The Intel's IPEAK on-line help explains what outliers mean "...A well behaved storage subsystems should have any outliers in the service time distribution and the distribution should be narrow. Outliers in the distribution make the storage subsystem unsuitable for real-time applications, such as multi-media, where variations in service time are detrimental..."

3. WinBench 99 Tests

WD1200JB 120GB - Page 3

WinBench 99 Test Results

At the Business WinMark99 test, the Western Digital WD1200JB performed very well. The drive gave a 15250 score, which is almost double than the WD400BB gave. At the High-End WinMark99 test, the drive also performs very well with a score of 34450. Despite the drive's big capacity (120GB) it can score high with the WinBench 99 software. As it seems, the increased buffer (8MB) gives a higher performance...

Transfer Rate Tests

The WD1200JB drive starts reading at 46650Kb/s and ends at 28800Kb/s. The drive's performance is very good and the "Data Density" graph does look quite interesting:

WD1200JB keeps its reading performance high until the first 20GB and then gradually falls to 28MB/s at the end of the disc:

4. SCSI Mechanic Tests

WD1200JB 120GB - Page 4

SCSI Mechanic Linear Reading/Writing Tests

We performed the SCSI Mechanic tests as described in our test methology guide. The test results are illustrated in the following graph. Note that the measurement unit is the Kb/s:

The performance for the WD1200JB in the "Sequential I/O" reading test was around 38Mb/s, which is high enough for your A/V needs. The drive communicates well with the IDE bus, and delivers 86690Kb/s at the "Same Sector I/O" test. Lastly, in the "Random I/O" test, the performance is 12961Kb/s higher than what Maxtor 6L40J2 gave.

In the linear writing tests, the WD1200JB drive performed also very well. In the "Sequential" test, the drive gave 37848Kb/s. In the "Random" test, it has 15693Kb/s and in the "Butterfly" test, 23858Kb/s. WD1200JB is faster than any 40GB drive.

5. IPEAK/Heat Tests

WD1200JB 120GB - Page 5

IPEAK/Heat Tests

- Combined Read/Writing Tests

Intel's IPEAK test results combine both reading/writing actions and give a weighted score based upon each drive's performance in each specific task. The height of each bar is the measured mean service time per disk access for a drive stimulated with I/Os from the given workload. Shorter bars represent better performance. As we will see a drive that scores well in the "Desktop" test doesn't mean that will perform the same in the "Server" mode test, since the I/O operations are different.

In the above picture you can see the weighted (Average) score of all tested drive. WD1200JB scored high enough to give a very low IPEAK Desktop weighted score of 1.14. This is due to higher reads vs. writes at the "Desktop" test. In the "Server" test, the drive delivers the lowest mark but with lower performance difference than in the previous test. You can download IPEAK test results over here.

- Heat Tests

The drive doesn't support such feature through the DTemp software.

6. Conclusion

WD1200JB 120GB - Page 6


Western Digital WD1200JB is the first 120GB disk drive that arrived in our labs. The drive has an 8MB buffer and according to Western Digital, will increase the drive's performance especially when it is used at Servers, where lot of read/write are occurred at the same time.

As our test results showed, the drive is very fast but it didn't perform better than the 40GB disks at the IPEAK Server test. Intel's IPEAK "Server" test contains lot of write and read operations on the disk. WD1200JB has high seek times (13ms) for both reading/writing tasks. This could be an explanation for the low performance of the drive in this test. SCSI drives are preferred for servers; due to their very low seek times (under 5ms).

Most users who need such a high capacity disk will use it at normal modes, and for this use the WD1200JB will be a good solution. The drive is very fast and the 8MB of buffer does help and delivers the maximum performance at this category. The price of the drive is around 379$, which is high enough but it we believe it is worthy :-)

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